The second and final game of the upcoming Test series between England and New Zealand will be a part of the UK government’s pilot project in a bid to understand the pros and cons at mass participation events. Close to 18,000 spectators – which is 70 per cent of the stadium’s capacity – will be allowed on each day of the Test.
This will also be the first pilot event within the second phase of the government’s Events Research Programme. While the main aim of the project is to analyse the testing protocols, social distancing and face coverings when moving around the stadium, it is also an attempt to understand and gather further evidence on the risk of transmission at mass gatherings.
Accordingto thegovernment protocols,the ticket holders must present a negative COVID-19 result from an NHS Rapid Lateral Flow Test, completed within 24 hours in advance of the day they are attending. They also need to submit their consent to take part in the programme. All ticket holders should be aged 16 and over.
Social distancing will have to be maintained while queuing to enter the stadium. Inside the ground, social distancing is not required – except in hospitality areas. Meanwhile, face coverings aren’t needed while being seated or while consuming food and drink.
“Edgbaston is unique as a cricket venue in having such a large stadium footprint, but we also have a vastly experienced operational delivery team, which has hosted many major events and a spectator pilot last summer. We have always been hopeful of featuring in the pilot programme and are delighted for the thousands of ticket holders who will now be able to attend,” said Stuart Cain, Chief Executive at Edgbaston.
“Whilst public health is the priority, the first stage pilots have shown how people can safely start to enjoy the things they love; live sport and music. It will be great to welcome cricket fans to Edgbaston and give the England team a huge boost as nothing beats the atmosphere that crowds create here,” he further added.
The proposal has been mutually acknowledged by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and supported by Public Health England, the England and Wales Cricket Board, Birmingham City Council and Edgbaston’s Safety Advisory Group.
Tom Harrison, Chief Executive of the ECB also welcomed the move and expressed delight in having the crowds back in the stadium. “Having crowds back into cricket grounds is so important for the game and for our fans too. The last 15 months have shown just how big a role cricket plays in many people’s lives, and we cannot wait to welcome a growing number of fans back to our stadia over the coming months,” he said.